Dar es Salaam. The clock is ticking towards August 23, when Tanzania will hold the sixth population census whose preparations are marred by untold ugly stories.
The recruitment of clerks and supervisors is the case on the spotlight with candidates and some selected individuals poking holes in the process overseen by the National Bureau of Statistics (NBS) in collaboration with the Office of the Chief Government Statistician of Zanzibar (OCGS).
The process started with online application in May before the candidates were selected for physical oral interviews that the candidates say “spoiled the procedure” with conflicting interests, favouritism and selfishness, among other allegations.
“When I got in the interview room, I was shocked to see a headmaster of a local secondary school sitting as one of the interviewers while he was also in the list of applicants. It’s a bit strange because giving him such a position makes him automatically qualified,” said a candidate in Chemba District of Dodoma Region who did not want to be named.
He is now part of the team being trained for managing census come August 23.
“You know, it’s like your fellow student to mark the same examination you sat together….he won’t fail,” the candidate added.
According to him, more frustrations came when the results came out with a selection list containing people who did not even show up for the interview.
“I was selected but disappointingly in a position which I had not applied for. I was shortlisted for the post of Content Supervisor but ended up becoming a clerk – a slightly lower ranking position,” he said.
He alleged that some other candidates were selected although they did not appear for the interview.
“I know some shortlisted people who were out of our region on the interview day and yet they were selected while some others showed up and missed the posts,” he said.
The government stresses that the entire recruitment process was transparent and the group selected continues well with the training ahead of the big day.
The NBS director general, Dr Albina Chuwa, dismissed the allegations saying that they were aimed at tainting the exercise which was “going on well.”
She said what her office did was to give guidance to the district census committees and after giving guidance, the interviews continued as usual.
“What I know and what you have given in the media is that the interview went according to plan and those selected are in training and are progressing well... that is what I know, as Dr Chuwa,” she said.
She added: “The rest that you hear from here and there, is really difficult and it is only meant to tarnish the image of the country along with this census exercise which is national and international... I would like to tell you that.”
However, many of those who spoke to this newspaper alleged that some of those assigned to manage the employee-search exercise at the district and ward levels created issues.
*Juma, a resident of Tarime Urban District in Mara Region says he was surprised by a colleague who, despite being in Dar es Salaam and could not attend the interview, was on the list of successful candidates.
“Before the interview, the friend called me and asked me if I had applied. I told him that I had already been selected for the interview... Then he told me that he had been told not to travel for the interview because his name had already been approved! I congratulated him, but I still had many questions,” he explains.
Upon arrival at the venue, the source was surprised to see his friend’s father as one of the panellists that were conducting the interview.
“I was very hurt when I saw his father in the panel of interviewers, but I found out that my colleague had already got a job...despite asking to be an IT supervisor given that I hold a degree in ICT, I ended up as a clerk while my colleague was listed as a content manager,” he explained.
Mr Juma believes that due to the situation, which he has also heard in other areas, many of the workers who were intended according to the criteria and capabilities have failed to be part of the team to conduct the important exercise for the nation.
“The issue of interviews being held at the district level under some people from the area is a challenge within the government’s mission to provide opportunities for the youth. Actually, there are others who are not residents of our area for a long time, but they were shortlisted... this issue should be looked at with a special eye,” he explained.
Ms Amina Abdi, 27, a resident of Dar es Salaam noted that in the way the exercise went, she believes there were people among those who were given the responsibility to manage the exercise, who didn’t have good intentions and had already set aside space for their people, despite the job vacancies being announced.
“I’m not saying this because I wasn’t lucky, but because, truth be told, there are people who got the jobs without criteria and instead used ‘back doors’ under the arrangements of some fraudulent managers,” she said.
“I wished that the entire exercise would be done by a team of experts directly from NBS, who could conduct interviews to people who are not known to them, instead, I see the exercise was treated as a common issue that anyone can run... I believe that in the future these situations will not recur ,” she added.
For his part, Mr Hamisi Mohamed, a resident of Tabata, explained that many young people who graduated from universities and had no jobs were not given priority in the exercise and claimed that many who got those jobs in some districts were civil servants and members of certain political parties (he did not name them).
“The government was supposed to give our young people who have finished their studies and are unemployed a chance. The criteria for experience in the subject for which the seminar is being offered is incorrect. I know many young people who were left behind against some people from major political parties,” he claimed.
About the recruitment process, after job applicants sent their applications, census committees in all districts in the country in collaboration with NBS announced interviews for selected applicants.
In the exercise of analysing job applicants, officers appointed by the district census committees, government officers and experts from the East African Statistics College participated, according to the 2022 Census schedule documents.
“The truth is that this exercise was organised very well at the national level and those of us who were involved in the interviews, especially in my district (Mpwapwa) took into account the parameters agreed by NBS. However, I cannot deny that such actions are not missing in an exercise like this and I believe the government will work on it,” said one of the leaders from the Mpwapwa District in Dodoma Region.
“We should also know that there are those who were interviewed, but could not be selected because there is a specific number that was needed. Now, many will just talk about many things to show that they were affected,” he explained.
Dr Emmanuel Maige, a development expert based in Dar es Salaam said despite the complaints from some young people who needed to do the work, the exercise remains the most important for the nation and thus encourages every Tanzanian to make sure that his or her participation is counted.
“Such challenges cannot be avoided sometimes, but that can be dealt with after this important event. I wish Tanzanians to understand that this is not an exercise of going out to vote for someone, but an exercise of life without which leaders cannot succeed in improving services,” he explained.
Ms Sophia Chaima, from the University of Dar es Salaam, told The Citizen that the government was faced with a major task of counting people with the aim of obtaining accurate statistics that will enable it and other stakeholders to plan development issues correctly.
“Everyone should be ready to be counted so that this country knows how we are going forward because it is said that we are one of the countries whose population is increasing fast. So we must go with the facts in planning long and short term development plans,” she said.